Lava trees are created when fast-flowing lava moves through a forest completely surrounding the moist trees. The lava cools on the outside as the tree is incinerated on the inside, leaving a lava shell in the shape of the tree. While some molds will reach several feet high, others will be merely stumps or even depressions. Sometimes lava trees will preserve the texture of the original bark. They are most often formed by smooth pahoehoe but occasionally a'a will create the same form. You can find these tree molds in HVNP up on Mauna Loa Road. Take a left out of the park and near mile marker 30.5 you'll find Mauna Loa Road which snakes uphill for 11.5 miles.
A little over half a mile up the road turn right for the short loop tour of the tree molds. Guard rails block off massive holes where majestic trees once stood. While not as impressive as those you will find in Puna, these tree molds are worth the stop if you have the time.
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